Your Story: US threatens to evacuate diplomats from Iraq | World News
The reduction of the US diplomatic presence can be perceived as an aggravation of the conflict with Iran
Washington prepared for the withdrawal of diplomats from Iraq, warning Baghdad that it might close its embassy, two Iraqi officials and two Western diplomats said. Iraq fears the move could turn their country into a war zone.
The reduction of the US diplomatic presence in the country, where up to 5,000 American troops are stationed, can be perceived in the region as an escalation of the confrontation with Iran, which Washington accuses of missile attacks and explosions..
This, in turn, will open up the possibility of military action just weeks before the US elections..
A week ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to close the embassy in a telephone conversation with President Barham Salih, two Iraqi government sources said. The conversation was first reported by an Iraqi news site..
By Sunday, Washington began to prepare for the withdrawal of diplomatic personnel in case such a decision is made, these sources and two Western diplomats said..
Iraqis fear the departure of diplomats will be followed by military action against forces that Washington blames for the attacks.
Iraqi spiritual leader Muqtada al-Sadr called last week to avoid escalation that would turn Iraq into a battlefield.
One Western diplomat said the US administration does not want its ability to weaken Iran or pro-Iranian formations in Iraq to be limited. When asked whether Washington would respond with economic or military measures, the diplomat replied: «By blows».
The US State Department, when asked about plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, said: «We never comment on the minister’s personal diplomatic conversations with foreign leaders … Iran-backed groups that launch rockets at our embassy pose a threat not only to us, but also to the Iraqi government ".
In a region divided by allies of Iran and the United States, Iraq is a rare exception, maintaining close ties with both countries. But because of this, he risks becoming a battleground in a puppet war..
This risk became especially evident in January, when Washington killed Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani with a drone strike at Baghdad airport. Iran responds by firing missiles at American bases in Iraq.
Since then, a new US-backed prime minister has come to power in Iraq, and Tehran continues to maintain close ties with influential Shiite militias..
The US diplomatic complex in the so-called green zone of Baghdad is regularly subjected to rocket attacks. In recent weeks, rocket attacks near the embassy have increased, and convoys carrying equipment for the international military coalition have been attacked with explosive devices. One of the bombings injured a British convoy in Baghdad, the first attack on Western diplomats in Iraq in many years..
On Monday, three children and two women were killed when two irregular rockets hit a residential building, the Iraqi military said. Police sources said the alleged target was Baghdad airport.
Two Iraqi intelligence sources said plans to withdraw US diplomats have not yet been launched and will depend on whether Iraqi security forces can end the attacks. Iraqi forces were ordered to prevent attacks on US targets, sources said. The evacuation of American diplomatic personnel will only begin if these efforts fail.
While Trump has emphasized the toughness of his Iranian policy, he has also long pledged to withdraw troops from the Middle East. The US is already reducing the contingent sent to Iraq to combat «Islamic State» in 2014-2017.